Gaynor Davenport on how she hears horses speaking, and dealing with sceptics
When I was little, my grandad had an old pony in the field, called Dolly, who used to do the milk round with him. My aunt used to take me to feed Dolly bread and I would sit up on the wall and trickle my toes through her fur. That’s when I realised I could hear her.
One day she told me, “Dolly’s going away.” I told my aunt and my mum told her to bring me in, but I was kicking and screaming. The next day, Dolly was dead.
My mum never let me ride, but horses are in my blood. I remember being taken for a donkey ride as a treat on a trip to Blackpool, and I could hear the donkey telling me to choose him as he’d give me the longest ride.
When I grew up I had many different jobs – a hair stylist, a shop assistant and housekeeper, but I was in my element around animals and would pass on to their owners what they were saying. I could always communicate with them, but I didn’t start in any official capacity until the mid 1990s.
Word got around, and my first serious job was when a National Hunt trainer asked me to come and see one of his promising young horses. He didn’t want anyone else knowing, so when the lads came round with the hay I hid underneath some rugs with my handkerchief in my mouth to stop me laughing!
The horse told me he could feel tension in the area between his liver and spleen and it turned out he was a bleeder. He was then exercised for long, gentle sessions instead of fast gallops so he was under less pressure. He went on to win the Gold Cup.
I can’t describe what I hear. It’s like a quiet whisper. I hear guttural sounds, and they sound like a word I recognise. A vet friend of mine said I’m on a higher plane of vibration, and I am very sensitive to electromagnetic fields.
I have never met anyone else with this gift, and I can’t explain it, nor can I teach others. I am secretive because many people are sceptical, but I have had vets check me out and I’ve worked through it with a solicitor for my own peace of mind.
I’m an honorary member of the international federation of aromatherapists, but there’s no official body for what I do. I can’t cause pain, I don’t manipulate and I do work alongside vets. Many vets and farriers who were sceptical are now marvellous supporters of mine.
I don’t like to know anything about the horse before, except their name. I wouldn’t even know how to look up a competition record – I don’t have a computer or a smartphone.
I have to be very patient; I can’t impose communication against a horse’s will if they don’t want to talk, but usually they warm up. It’s a burden what they tell me, as sometimes they aren’t happy with what the rider’s doing and I have to pass this on, but I don’t judge.
I’ve talked to horses going to the Olympics, hunters, and horses belonging to royalty. One of the most famous was Tamarillo; many things were troublesome to him initially, but he went on to win Badminton and Burghley. I’ve met his clone Tomatillo and he definitely knew me. I think William Fox-Pitt was sceptical at first but I have worked with many of his horses over the years.
In lockdown I’ve been communicating from a distance. It takes longer, so I charge £170 rather than £150 if I can go in person. I draw the owner diagrams of the horse’s internal area and colour where he’s feeling pain or stress, so they can relate to that when they are riding.
I’ve been working with an advanced event rider in lockdown who had a horse who was sharp and moody. The horse told me he was uncomfortable behind the saddle and in his contact. The rider has changed his bit and treated him with oils behind the saddle and she’s delighted with how well he’s going. I’m not a trainer, I just listen.
● As told to Martha Terry
This feature can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 6 May
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